For the first time since 1986, the CAA will crown its men’s basketball champion on a member campus. The league said Wednesday that the tournament will be held March 6-9 at James Madison’s new Atlantic Union Bank Center rather than Washington’s Entertainment and Sports Arena, where it was originally scheduled on those dates.
Conferences around the country are studying comparable moves because of the impracticality of holding tournaments at neutral sites that are not expected to allow fans, and the associated costs of reserving those arenas. All 10 CAA teams, including Virginia members JMU and William & Mary, are scheduled to participate in the tournament in Harrisonburg.
“We are prepared and excited to play a significant part in the road to NCAA March Madness this spring,” Jeff Bourne, JMU’s director of athletics, said in a CAA release.
Decisions about spectators allowed at JMU’s arena for the CAA tournament will be made prior to the tournament’s start, according to a league spokesperson.
The CAA plans to return to Washington’s Entertainment and Sports Arena next year. JMU’s Atlantic Union Bank Center opened in November, and seats 8,500.
In 1986, the last time the CAA championship was decided on a member campus, Navy won at George Mason to capture the title. Following that, the CAA tournament shifted to the Hampton Coliseum for three years, to the Richmond Coliseum for 24 years, to Baltimore for three years at the Royal Farms Arena, to Charleston, S.C., at the North Charleston Coliseum for three years, and was played last year at Washington’s Entertainment and Sports Arena.
That 4,200-seat facility in normal times is home to the Capital City Go-Go, the Washington Wizards’ G League team, and the Washington Mystics of the WNBA.
In addition to JMU and W&M, the CAA includes Northeastern, Charleston, Hofstra, Delaware, UNC Wilmington, Towson, Drexel and Elon.